Army Picked 10th In AHA Preseason Poll

Junior goaltender Rob Tadazak

Junior goaltender Rob Tadazak

Sept. 17, 2013

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army has been picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic Hockey Association preseason poll, according to a vote of the league's head coaches. The poll was announced Tuesday during a preseason teleconference with all 12 AHA head coaches.

Army received 28 points and was picked ahead of American International (22 points) and Sacred Heart (16). Each of the league's 12 head coaches voted but were not allowed to choose their own team.

Niagara received 102 points and three first-place votes and was the top choice, followed by Mercyhurst and Air Force tied for second place with 98 points and collected four and two first-place votes, respectively. Defending AHA champion Canisius was predicted to finish fourth with 92 points and three first-place votes.

RIT claimed the fifth slot with 81 points, followed in order by Connecticut (79), Robert Morris (66), Holy Cross (59), Bentley (53), Army, AIC and Sacred Heart.

Army, which was picked to finish 10th in last year's preseason coaches poll, wound up finishing 11th. An upstart Black Knights club opened 2012-13 as one of the hottest teams in the league, posting a 5-2-1 record in the first eight games.

"We played a lot of young guys in key situations last year," said 10th-year head coach Brian Riley during Tuesday's teleconference. "We seemed to run out of gas at the end, and I'm hoping we learned a valuable lesson from that. We need to be able to sustain a consistent effort from start to finish in order to be successful this year."

Once again, a relatively young Black Knights' squad will take the ice for their first AHA contest on Friday, Nov. 1, at UConn for a 7:05 p.m. start in Storrs, Conn. Army's 2013-14 roster features depth at all positions and includes nine rookies and 12 sophomores.

While Army lost leading scorer Andy Starczewski (11G, 15A) to graduation in May, the team's next 10-leading scorers are all back for the impending season to include alternate captain Mac Lalor (6G, 12A) and AHA All-Rookie Team selection Joe Kozlak (7G, 10A). Junior Rob Tadazak, who started 21 games last season and posted a .907 save percentage, returns to headline the Black Knights' goaltending corps. Senior Brian Schultz will serve as team captain and Lalor and fellow junior Josh Richards were selected as alternate captains.

"We've never been known as a high-scoring team," Riley continued on the teleconference. "The bedrock of this program has always been defense. That is an area of improvement we're focusing on for this season, and hopefully it will translate into more wins.

"Once again, we have a fairly young roster, but our sophomores played a tremendous amount of quality minutes for us last year," he added. "We're happy with what we've seen so far, but know we need to play a lot better in our own end than we did last year."

The Black Knights will play 13 AHA games in the friendly confines of Tate Rink and travel for the remaining 14 regular-season conference dates.

The 2014 Atlantic Hockey Tournament will feature the same format as last year. The top four teams receive a bye into the quarterfinals with seeds 5-8 hosting seeds 9-12 in a best two-out-of-three first round series starting Friday, March 7. The first round winners will then be re-seeded and travel to the top four seeds for a best two-out-of-three quarterfinal series, which will begin Friday, March 14.

The four winners will then travel to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. with the highest remaining seed facing the lowest remaining seed in the first semifinal, with the other two remaining seeds facing off in the second semifinal on Friday, March 21.

The two semifinal winners will then face-off in the Championship game on Saturday, March 22, with the league's NCAA Tournament automatic berth on the line.

To order your 2013-14 hockey tickets today, visit www.goARMYsports.com/tickets, call 1-877-TIX-ARMY or stop by the Army Ticket Office located at Gate 3 of Michie Stadium. Season, group and single-game tickets are now on sale, along with three and six-game mini-plans. Click here for more information and pricing.

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